What does LGBTQIA stand for? A history of the popular umbrella acronym

As Pride Month progresses, those not familiar with terms used within the LGBT community might be asking themselves: What is this "LGBTQIA" business?

Simply, the term stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning, intersex and intergender and anonymous and ally. Not so simply, it took the gay community decades of cultural shift, dialogue and exchange to arrive at this umbrella term.

The move to normalize the LGBTQIA acronym began really began in the 1940's and 50's when the term "gay" started to be used as slang for men and women who were attracted to members of the same sex. Women also began to use the term "lesbian" more commonly in the 1970's to differentiate themselves.

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According to Steven Petrow of the Washington Post, the term "bisexual" started to become a truly recognized sexual identity in the 1990s. It was then that activists began advocating for the more prominent recognition of bisexual and transgender members of the gay community -- resulting in the term "GLBT" in the early 2000s. Today, GLBT and LGBT are interchangeable, but LGBT is more frequently used in the advocacy space.

Slowly but surely, prominent figures in political and pop culture moved the normalization of the gay community forward. Ellen DeGeneres came out in a 1997 episode of "Ellen," the first legal same-sex marriage occurs in Massachusetts in 2004 and Matthew Shepard's gruesome murder in Laramie, Wisconsin shined a light on the horrors of hate crime faced by the LGBT community.

"It's very culturally and generationally driven," Juniper Center Director Margo M. Jacquot recently said to the Chicago Tribune of the increasingly specific acronym additions.

The additional "QIA" has come to include those who identify as queer/questioning, intersex/intergender and asexual/ally. Some iterations of the acronym even add a "+" sign at the end, symbolizing the inclusion of all other identities.

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